Ryan Garcia showed no signs of rust after a 15-month layoff, as he easily defeated Emmanuel Tagoe by unanimous decision (119-108, 119-108, 118-109) in a 139-pound catchweight bout from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old was a heavy favorite to win the match. FanDuel SportsBook gave him -2400 odds (bet $2,400 to win $100) to get past Tagoe.
Garcia was the aggressor right from the start. Tagoe seemed to be backing up and trying to avoid contact in the first round. He got knocked down in the second round but regained his composure to keep the bout going.
The third round was more of the same, though Tagoe didn't go down. Garcia landed hard shots to the head and body.
Dan Rafael @DanRafael1
Rd 3: All Garcia, going upside Tagoe's head with right hands, landing body shots and Tagoe nothing but backing up and trying to survive. 3-0. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/boxing?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#boxing</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GarciaTagoe?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GarciaTagoe</a>
Eventually, the fans seemed to catch on to Tagoe's plan of running around to avoid losing by stoppage. The fourth round saw people in the Alamodome start to entertain themselves.
Saturday marked Garcia's first bout since his TKO win over Luke Campbell in January 2021. The Flash was set to challenge Javier Fortuna on July 9, but he withdrew from the match to take care of his mental health.
When the fight with Tagoe was officially announced in February, Garcia addressed where he was at physically and mentally.
"I am excited and motivated to be back in the ring finally. I'm ready to do something special and give the fans a show they will never forget," Garcia told reporters. "I always want to make sure I give all my fans something memorable every time I fight."
Saturday was a memorable night for Garcia, though it's likely one Tagoe will want to forget. The fifth round saw Garcia corner Tagoe and deliver a series of hard shots before the bell sounded to save the Gameboy.
The first time Tagoe tried to bring the fight to Garcia was in the eighth round. He landed a huge left hook to Garcia's face, but that positive momentum didn't last.
Barring a surprise knockout, anything Tagoe tried in the final rounds was too little, too late. He didn't do anything to win even a single round on two scorecards.
Garcia was constantly moving forward, finding openings to tag his opponent. He appeared to rock Tagoe in the 10th round, but the Ghana native remained on his feet to keep the match going.
It's a credit to Tagoe that he kept going in the face of extreme danger. The 33-year-old had won 32 consecutive bouts after losing the first fight of his career in June 2004. He did enough at one point for one of the judges to give him a round on the scorecards.
Garcia, meanwhile, continues his ascent up the lightweight rankings with the win. He is now 22-0 in his professional career, with 18 victories by knockout or TKO.
21+ and present in AZ, CO, CT, IA, IL, IN, LA, MI, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, or WV. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP or text NEXTSTEP to 53342 (AZ), 1-888-789-7777 or visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-GAMBLER or visit FanDuel.com/RG (CO, IA, IN, IL, NJ, PA, VA), 1-877-770-STOP (LA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-877-8-HOPENY or text HOPENY(467369) (NY), TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or visit www.1800gambler.net (WV).